The area known as Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa. Controlled by the British Empire until independence in the 1960s, the South African government pressed the British for incorporation of the area into its territory. However, in October 1966, the Kingdom gained full independence. Despite formal independence, the white-controlled government in South Africa played a major role in its neighbor's economic and political affairs, including supporting the government of Lesotho Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. In 1986, South Africa supported the coup d'état in Lesotho which brought Justin Lekhanya to power. In turn, Lekhanya's government expelled African National Congress members as well as technicians from North Korea, which led to significantly better relations between the countries.
In September 1998, South Africa led a military intervention in Lesotho in the name of SADC, after post-election rioting and rumours of a possible coup. SADC troops withdrew from Lesotho in May of the following year.
South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994. Since then, South Africa's influence in Lesotho has grown. It is involved with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, an ongoing water supply and hydro-power project. In August 2010, South African President Jacob Zuma led a group of investors and politicians to Lesotho, where they discussed bilateral cooperation as well as regional political developments. While in Lesotho in 2010, Zuma visited the Katse Dam and addressed a joint session of the Parliament of Lesotho.